Can Germany reign in Rio?

July 4, 2016

Reigning Olympic champions Germany finished the Champions Trophy in bronze medal position after defeating the host nation, Great Britain 1-0. This was a good result for the German team as, in their earlier matches, the team had played promising but ultimately unfulfilled matches. For the German team, this was the penultimate competitive situation before Olympic selection, and it also provided a welcome opportunity for Valentin Altenburg to spend more time learning what his players were capable of. The coach only took charge of the senior national team in November 2015, meaning he had less than a year to prepare the team to defend their title in Rio.

Speaking about the challenges that lie ahead, Tobias Hauke said: "The Champions Trophy has been a very important tournament for us. We don't get to play teams like Australia very often, we just play them in the big tournaments, so it is good for us to play teams that we are likely to meet in Rio."

The squad that turned up in London for the Champions Trophy is far from the finished Olympic article. Many familiar names remained at home, but will have their chance to impress the coach in a four-nations tournament in Valencia, Spain. It is a factor that makes Hauke optimistic about the team's results. "We tried a few different things in the Champions Trophy, some worked, some didn't. We are just trying very hard to get better and better at each tournament we play. At the moment, we are scoring well, but our defence needs some work. We scored three goals against Australia, usually if Germany scores three against India, they win the game, but this time we conceded four."  

So how does the build-up compare to London 2012. "Compared to 2012, this is totally different. Prior to 2012 we had the same coach, Markus Weise, for four years and a stable squad who had mostly been together for a long time. This time we have a new coach in Valentin Oltenburg and some new players so it is good that we have time and opportunity to experiment and make changes and improvement before Rio."

The coaching system in Germany is based around a university system. All coaches follow a course and take an internship which sees them working alongside an established coach with a national team. In this way, the German coaching philosophy remains similar from one coach to his or her successor. Hauke says this has helped the team adapt to life under a new coach. "In Germany all the coaches are pretty similar. Valentin is younger and has some different ideas to Markus. He has also seen how the game has changed and he has some more ideas that we can put into operation into games against teams such as Australia."


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